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Hip-Hop Fridays: Exclusive Q & A With Davey D.

Davey D. is one of the most important opinion leaders in all of Hip-Hop. Having been involved with Hip-Hop since its earliest days, Davey has seen the art form and industry evolve like few others. And his current involvement in the radio business allows Davey to see the corporate power plays, politics and creative artistry that make up a good part of the Hip-Hop "industry". His website Davey is our favorite Hip-Hop website; in our opinion, the best on the Internet - free of the gimmicks, bells and whistles that mark (or mar) other popular Hip-Hop websites, but always full of breaking news and thoughtful commentary from Davey and a host of others in the Hip-Hop community. Davey's perspective, which brings together an understanding of art, business and social and political consciousness, is truly one of a kind.

Davey granted an exclusive interview that we will run in a few parts. Here is today's brief part 1 of that extensive interview. It should whet your appetite for the rest.

Cedric Muhammad: How do you define Hip-Hop culture?

Davey D: Hip Hop culture is a continuation of cultural aesthetics and expressions from past generations, in particular those expressions that we can find within the African American and various Latino communities. While I'm aware that there are somewhat unique ways in which Hip Hop expressions manifested themselves in New York during the early 70s, if you look at what was going on throughout the country at the same time you will find similar parallel expressions... For example when I was in Bronx in '77, '78, 79 running with a crew, making pause button tapes and trying to get known at local community centers for my emcee skills, 3000 miles away in Oakland Cali where I live now there were hundreds of garage bands. Now on the surface someone would say that the garage bands of the 70s in the Bay Area were different than the early Hip Hop crews in NY.. I say only to a certain degree.. While their specific activities were different, what inspired folks to express themselves in the manner that they did was pretty much the same.. Garage Bands in the Bay Area were reacting to oppressive social economic and political conditions in the Bay Area and the formation of early Hip Hop crews in the Bronx were reacting to oppressive conditions.. The city of NY at the time I was coming up had turned its back on Black youth. They were suppressing gang activity. They fired 15 thousand school teachers to avoid a fiscal crises, radio was shoving disco down our throats etc.. In Oakland, the same thing was happening.. Both groups found themselves on the outs and being ignored. This left the doors wide open for the emergence of coping expressions that were part of a larger dance and music scene. In New York we called it Hip Hop. In Cali we called them garage funk bands. In Washington DC we called it GoGo. In Chicago we called it House, etc... All these expressions built upon expressions of the past generations...which means as we look at Hip Hop carefully the question that should arise is 'Not when did Hip Hop culture emerge...but instead where WAS Hip Hop in each generation or part of the country.

Cedric Muhammad: What in your opinion are the most pressing issues facing the Hip-Hop community today?

Davey D: The most pressing issues are internal beefs exploding into violence.. The Lil Kim vs CNN shoot out was the latest example. On a larger level, which many Hip Hoppers don't always see immediately, is Hip Hop being redefined by corporate and commercial interests.. Sadly, we within Hip Hop often partake in this redefining because some of us are able to get some immediate perks and financial rewards..

Cedric Muhammad: Do you think that Hip-Hop artists are more mature today than they were say 10 and 15 years ago?

Davey D: On some levels yes.. On the money tip... I think artists are smarter... In terms of trying to preserve Hip Hop culture I think we're all about the Benjamins before we're about controlling who and how the Benjamins will be distributed...In other words guys like Cash Money, Jay-Z or Puffy seem to get paid more then their Afrocentric Hip Hop predecessors like X-Clan or Public Enemy.. But PE and X-Clan did more to uplift our collective culture and consciousness in a way that still resonates with people.. With so many oppressive conditions facing us these days… I will yearn for the day that I pick up a Jay Z album and hear a compelling heart wrenching song tackling the issue of police brutality... I yearn for the days that a Cash Money click would release an anthem type song that would have them 'Back up some politicians as opposed to my ass... Such artists have so much popularity and influence, they could really reshape our communities overnight.. The sad part is guys like Jay Z know this... Jigga once announced that he was gonna start drinking water in his videos just to see how many people would follow his lead.. Imagine if Jay Z did a video where he voting... or better yet chasing down some corrupt cops and handing out beat downs…or better yet imagine if one of these artists did a song and a video where they break into jail and Free Mumia?

Friday, March 16, 2001

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